433 F.3d 537 (7th Cir. 2005), 05-1803, Moranski v. General Motors Corp.

Docket Nº:05-1803.
Citation:433 F.3d 537
Party Name:John W. MORANSKI, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:December 29, 2005
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 537

433 F.3d 537 (7th Cir. 2005)

John W. MORANSKI, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 05-1803.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

Dec. 29, 2005

Argued Oct. 24, 2005.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, No. 1:04-CV-0650 – David F. Hamilton, Judge.

Page 538

David C. Gibbs, III (argued), Gibbs Law Firm, Seminole, FL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Barry E. Fields (argued), Kirkland & Ellis, Chicago, IL, Defendant-Appellee.

Ann Elizabeth Reesman, McGuiness & Williams, Washington, DC, amicus curiae.

Before POSNER, WILLIAMS, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

WILLIAMS, Circuit Judge.

Several years ago, General Motors developed what is now known as its Affinity Group program. The program, which makes company resources available to recognized groups, began as an outgrowth of the company's efforts to support employees from diverse backgrounds and improve company performance. General Motors's Affinity Group Guidelines prohibit the conferral of Affinity Group status on any group promoting or advocating a religious position. Citing these Guidelines, General Motors declined to grant Affinity Group status to employee John Moranski's proposed Christian Employee Network. We agree with the district court that General Motors's denial of Affinity Group status to Moranski's proposed group did not discriminate against him on the basis of his religion, as the program treats equally all groups with religious positions. Therefore, we affirm the district court's decision to dismiss Moranski's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

I. BACKGROUND

The allegations that follow are set forth in the complaint and in the General Motors Affinity Group Guidelines attached as an exhibit to the complaint. General Motors ("GM") instituted its Affinity Group program in 1999. The program resulted from efforts to make diverse constituencies feel more welcomed and valued at GM, remove barriers to productivity for all employees, and increase market share and customer enthusiasm in diverse market segments. According to the Guidelines, Affinity Groups "are typically created around an aspect of common social identity that influences how others see them at GM." Affinity Groups are eligible to receive resources including the use of company facilities and equipment for group activities and funds to support the group's mission.

In order to receive Affinity Group status, General Motors must approve the proposed group's request for registration. The Guidelines provide that the company will not recognize as Affinity Groups entities organized only as the result of a common interest or activity, such as golf or theater. The Guidelines also explicitly list other groups that GM will not approve for Affinity Group status, including, as relevant here, groups that "promote or

Page 539

advocate particular religious or political positions." General Motors currently recognizes nine Affinity Groups: People with Disabilities, the General Motors African Ancestry Network, GM Plus (for gay and lesbian persons), the North American Women's Advisory Council, the GM Hispanic Initiative Team, the GM Asian Indian Affinity Group, the GM Chinese Affinity Group, the GM Mid-East/South-East Asian Affinity Group, and the Veterans Affinity Group. Membership is voluntary and must be open to all current, salaried, full-time employees who share a group's goals.

John Moranski works as a desktop computing architect at GM's Allison Transmission unit in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a born-again Christian. In December 2002, Moranski submitted an application for recognition of the "GM Christian Employee Network" as an Affinity Group. The application stated that the Christian Employee Network would be an interdenominational group and would not promote a particular church or religious denomination in the workplace. General Motors denied Moranski's application, stating the company's Affinity Group Guidelines preclude groups that promote or advocate religious positions from receiving Affinity Group status.

Moranski filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and received a Notification of Right to Sue letter. He then filed suit in federal court, alleging that General Motors discriminated against him on the basis of his religion when it denied his request for Affinity Group recognition. The district court granted General Motors's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, and Moranski appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Standard of Review

We review de novo a district court's grant of a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Small v. Chao, 398 F.3d 894, 897 (7th Cir. 2005), accepting as true all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint and drawing all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Cler v. Ill. Educ. Ass'n, 423 F.3d 726, 729 (7th Cir. 2005). Any written instrument attached to the complaint is considered a part of the complaint. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c). In this case, Moranski attached the Affinity Group Guidelines as an exhibit to his complaint and referred to the Guidelines in his complaint. The district court thus properly considered the Guidelines when it ruled on the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. See Witzke v. Femal, 376 F.3d 744, 749 (7th Cir. 2004); Tierney v. Vahle, 304 F.3d 734, 738-39 (7th Cir. 2002).

A Title VII plaintiff need not set forth allegations of a prima facie case in the complaint. Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A., 534 U.S. 506, 508 (2002). Instead, a plaintiff alleging discrimination in violation of Title VII must only set forth in the complaint "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)). Nonetheless, the dismissal of a complaint for failure to state a claim is proper if "it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP